Saturday, 14 April 2012

Thrybergh CP - Ringing and 2 Year Ticks

Today started very well with a great ringing session at Thrybergh Country Park in Rotherham. As well as the best catch for a while (17 birds) I also got two year ticks with my first Willow Warber and Common Terns of the year.

Common Tern (note the black tip to the bill)

The ringing began at 7.30am, a nice time to start, and within a few minutes we had our first birds in the net. The birds continued throughout the morning and by the time we packed up I had rung my first Tree Sparrow of the year, my second Yellowhammer, my third Chaffinch and had a retrapped Dunnock.

In between net rounds we spent some time looking at the birds on the lake which included 40 odd Sand Martins, several Swallows, 1 House Martin ( which I didn't see, so I'll wait to add it to my Year List), Cormorants, Mute Swans, Mallards, Canada and Greylag Geese, at least 1 pair of Gadwall (my first record here), Coots, Moorhens and singing Skylarks (over the fields, not on the lake!).

One bird that had us scratching our heads was a possible "White Wagtail" that was seen feeding on the edge of the water. Although not yet a species in its own right, it's the european version of our Pied Wagtail, it's a regular passage bird in Britain and is very nice to see. As regards the identification, it's back was very grey, but what worried us was the lack of  a clear division between this and the black head. I consulted "Collins" (the best field guide ever, buy a copy if you haven't already got one) when I got home and apparently a female White Wagtail shows a "diffuse transition black to grey" i.e. the neck of the female bird is greyer and blends into the grey of its back! If only I'd taken my camera with me!!!! The jury's still out on this bird, but here's a picture of a male White Wagtail seen on Stones Island, at Carsington Water, Derbyshire, last year.

White Wagtail

The Year List moves on 2 species:

121 - Willow Warbler
122 - Common Tern

UPDATE: After a little emailing and a lot of help from a David from the ringing group (thanks David), I think I'm pretty happy to i.d. this morning's bird as a female White Wagtail. If you're interested, follow this link to read a very intersting paper explaining why.

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